Use the drop-down boxes above to navigate through the Website  
Return to Reasoning List

Here is a link to this page:

Articles about the roots and culture of Shona people of Zimbabwe

1 - 1011 - 18
Time Zone: EST (New York, Toronto)
Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:01:38 PM

A FEW weeks back several articles
appeared in The Patriot focusing on
the Njelele shrine located in the
Matombo (not Matopos) Hills in
Matabeleland South.
I have deliberately referred to the
location of the shrine as the Matombo
Hills, the correct name.
The Anglicisation of our local names
was part of the colonising process
which we must now reject in
preference for local ones whose
meaning and significance our children
can appreciate.
We shall pursue the names debate
The religious significance of the Njelele
and other shrines among the Shona
and other language groups has been
discussed at length.
There has been some element of
conflict with different groups claiming
‘ownership’ of the shrine.
If indeed, the Njelele shrine is part of
the religious traditions of the Shona,
similar if not identical shrines should
be located along their path of
If the Shona originated in East-Central
Africa, there must be aspects of their
culture and way of life that can be
traced back to where they came from.
I was visited by some comrades who
wanted to seek my opinion on the
debate surrounding the Njelele shrine
and its national importance.
I then decided to discuss the issue of
religious shrines with my wife who
grew up in one of the central African
countries in the Great Lakes region.
She recalled that there is a Njerere
(not Njelele) shrine in Rwanda, the
country she grew up in.
She remembered some details that
her parents and grandmother had
passed on to her as she grew up.
The immediate question that came to
my mind was whether the two
shrines, one in Rwanda and the other
in Zimbabwe are related.
The names are virtually identical.
I understand that in both Rwanda and
Zimbabwe ‘njerere’ is a kind of eagle.
I assume the Ndebele and Kalanga
would replace the ‘r’ in
‘njerere’ (Shona) with the letter ‘l’.
When we grew up in Mberengwa, the
place was always called ‘kuMatojeni’.
I shall first explore the question as to
whether the Shona-speaking people
of Zimbabwe indeed have links with
east-central Africa.
I have chosen to explore the historical
links by way of language similarities.
I still remember an article that
appeared in The Herald newspaper in
1972, the year the Olympic Games
were staged in Munich, West
The report described how the
organisers of those games had run a
competition asking for a drawing that
depicted the spirit of the games.
One of the winning entries had no
address, but had a caption written in
a language that experts traced to be
from central Africa’ either from
Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) or western
Further inquiries eventually located
the artist in a village in western
Tanzania. Apparently, the Shona
language has many similarities with
languages spoken in or around the
Great Lakes region.
Those who have visited Rwanda say
that many of the place names in that
country are similar or identical to
Shona names.
Although the language spoken by
Rwandese today, Kirwanda, is not
identical to Shona, much of the
vocabulary is similar I am told.
I have asked someone who grew up
in Rwanda to give some typical names
from that country.
She recalls the elderly lady in the
village she grew up in who was called
‘A Unhukare’, which literally translates
into ‘one who used to be of good
character long a go’.
‘Rudo’ is a common girl’s name in
Rwanda as is the case in Zimbabwe.
One road in the western Rwandan
town of Goma goes by the name
‘Kudza Vanhu’ which is also Shona for
‘respect people’.
A cow in Rwanda can go by the name
‘Pfumayavashe’ which is also Shona
for ‘the chief’s wealth’.
Retail store names in Rwanda include
‘Pfumaishungu’ and ‘Ndangariro’
which are also Shona words for ‘You
need determination to be rich’ and
‘Memories’ respectively.
On a visit to Uganda a few years back,
a Zimbabwean colleague and I went
to eat at a restaurant in Entebbe one
I had been telling my colleague that
historians say the Shona people are
said to have originated from the Great
Lakes region.
We decided to test if there were
language similarities with people in
We randomly approached one of the
waiters at the restaurant and asked
her a few questions.
First we asked where she came from,
and the reply was Western Uganda,
bordering on Rwanda in the south
and the Democratic Republic of
Congo on the west.
The first question we asked was ‘what
do you call a girl in your language’?
She answered straight back
We looked at each other.
The next question was ‘what do you
call a boy’?
‘Mukomana’ came her quick reply.
Then I thought of what I considered a
‘difficult’ one, one to remove all doubt.
‘What is the word for your body?’ I
asked, sure that this time we would
not get a Shona word again.
Oh, ‘my body is called ‘muviri’ in my
language” she replied.
This time we really looked each other!
Were we talking to a Shona-speaking
She further told us that a woman is
‘mukadzi’ and cattle are ‘ngombe’ in
her mother language.
We rested our case.
Somewhere in western Uganda are a
people who speak a Shona-like
language, we concluded.
One could assume that they also call
that predatory eagle found in many
parts of Africa, a ‘njerere’.
I recalled these language episodes as
I pondered on the existence of a
‘Njerere’ shrine in eastern Rwanda.
My chance encounters with Shona-
sounding language suggested to me
that the Shona-speaking people must
have links with the places where
another ‘Njerere’ shrine exists,
thousands of kilometres away from
the Matombo Hills, close to the
eastern border between Rwanda and
To start with the Njerere shrine in
Rwanda is associated with a type of
eagle called ‘njerere’, the same word
in Shona also refers to a type of eagle.
The ‘njerere’ eagles are said to
frequent the hill, nesting in the tall
trees surrounding the shrine which is
next to a rocky outcrop (ruware/
The ‘njerere’ birds are said to make
their characteristic cries which locals
can translate to portend different
There is a spring of clear cool water
on the hillside.
The place is sacred and associated
with many religious taboos, so it is
not frequented by the public.
I also learnt that apart from the
‘Njerere’ shrine there are two others.
The three different shrines are each
dedicated to different issues climate
and regional peace.
I will share details of these and
compare with the Njelele shrine in
Zimbabwe in subsequent articles.
The existence of at least two Njerere
shrines in two distant countries whose
peoples have historical linguistic ties
points to their religious significance.
The Shona trace their roots to
Guruuswa somewhere up north,
some say in Tanganyika.
The shrines are places of worship
where the people approach and seek
the intervention of Mwari (God).
The Shona and other African peoples
recognise one supreme God,
Musikavanhu/uMdali, the Creator.
We have shown that the Njelele shrine
at Matombo Hills has counterparts in
at least one other country through
which the forefathers of the Shona
people passed as they migrated
In the next article we shall compare
and contrast the Njerere shrines in
Zimbabwe with those shrines found
elsewhere in East Central Africa in
terms of their religious functions.
We shall later also re-visit the
importance of the religious shrines in
the African struggle for emancipation
from European domination.
2 Responses to Tracing the Shona
back to the Great Lakes
minecraft pc on June 24, 2014 at 7:04
I read this piece of writing fully
regarding the difference of newest
and earlier technologies, it’s
remarkable article.
KUMBI on July 4, 2014 at 6:44 pm
also heard of a tribe called “Zimba” in
DRC and coincidentally their language
is basically shona. Good and
interesting but badly researched
*why not ask the girl the name of
(waitress) her language? and ask a
question in shona?
*why not show “those languages and
do a though research and even tell
your own readers the name of the
said similar languages
so that if us as readers of your peace
can also further research?

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:04:35 PM

IN the previous article we revealed
that there is a Njerere shrine in
eastern Rwanda.
We noted the similarity in name to our
Zimbabwean Njelele shrine in the
Matombo Hills.
We speculated that the two shrines
were set up by Shona-speaking
people some of whom migrated
south to present-day Zimbabwe.
We cited language similarities
between Shona and local languages
spoken in central African countries like
Rwanda where a shrine called’
Njerere’ is located. We also
understand the shrines to be places
of worship for the Shona Mwari (God)
In this article we first look at the kind
of human problems that local people
bring to their God at the Njerere
shrines here in Zimbabwe and in
Rwanda, as a way of comparing and
contrasting them.
We then examine the strategic role of
these shrines in the African struggles
for emancipation from white
Our information is that in Rwanda
there are three ‘Njelele-type’ shrines
that people visit to seek God’s
intervention in times of calamity.
In all cases there are no dedicated
keepers of the shrines.
They are revered places approached
or visited only in times of need.
The shrines are located on or close to
remote hills in areas not frequented
by the general populace.
The absence of specific keepers of the
shrines in Rwanda is in contrast to the
Zimbabwean ‘Njelele’ shrine where
specific persons reside as keepers of
the shrine.
The shrine named ‘Njerere’ in Rwanda
is approached only on matters of
national security.
The people receive warnings of
impending conflicts and also seek
guidance and courage from the
The shrine becomes a centre for war
Weapon-making facilities would be
established at the ‘Njerere’ shrine.
Spears, bows and arrows and other
war paraphernalia were actually
manufactured at the shrine.
The mobilisation of men and
materials for war was actually done
under the guidance of the spirits at
‘Njerere’ shrine in Rwanda.
The second ‘Njerere-type’ shrine in
Rwanda is named Tafika.
It is dedicated to seeking God’s
intervention in times of human and
animal disease pandemics.
When a disease pandemic breaks out
in the community, the elders arrange
for consultative visits to the shrine.
At the shrine they are advised on the
causes of the calamity and the steps
that need to be followed to alleviate
the pandemic.
The advice from the shrine is
religiously followed as we shall show
in our next article on the rituals that
are conducted.
It is a common African belief that
what Europeans might call a natural
disaster may in fact be a consequence
of, or be related to, failure by
individuals or communities to observe
certain taboos that underpin the
integrity and moral fabric of the
Such information may be revealed at
such shrines.
The third ‘Njerere-type’ shrine in
Rwanda is Kamuchenje.
The people seek divine intervention at
this shrine in times of climate or
weather-related disasters especially
those that impact on agricultural
productivity and food security.
These phenomena include droughts,
floods and pest invasions e.g. locusts
and army worms and animal diseases
such as rinderpest.
Again community spiritual leaders will
approach the shrine and make the
necessary supplications.
The people will then be enlightened
on the causes of the calamity and the
remedial steps to be taken.
Rain-making ceremonies are part of
activities at this third shrine.
The Zimbabwean Njelele shrine is
dedicated to all human calamities:
individuals, families and
representatives of whole communities
seek God’s (Mwari) intervention in
times of war, disease pandemics and
climate change-related disasters like
So in contrast to the Rwandan
situation where three different shrines
handle different aspects, the
Zimbabwean Njelele shrine handles all
matters that afflict the people.
The Njelele shrine in Zimbabwe is
reportedly visited by people from all
over east and central Africa.
That is an indication that the Mwari
religion was and continues to be
practised widely across the sub-
As the influence and practice of the
Mwari religion has declined on the
back of a relentless drive by
European-linked Christian churches to
demonise African religions, the
frequency of visits to Njelele shrines
has somewhat declined.
This is especially true among the
Western-educated de-culturated (de-
Africanised) elites who now dominate
many post-independence African
Hundreds if not thousands of
Christian mission stations dotted
across the southern African landscape
were funded and granted land stolen
from Africans by Cecil John Rhodes to
facilitate various missionary
expeditions to ‘convert’ blacks from
their Mwari religion to Christianity.
Apart from use of brutal force, this
religious invasion was the most
powerful colonising strategy used by
the Europeans.
Our Zimbabwean forefathers regularly
consulted the Njelele shrine when
foreign invasions, human or livestock
diseases and droughts afflicted their
In the early 1890s, rinderpest, a cattle
disease decimated the cattle herds of
both Ndebele and Shona
Following consultations, the advice
from the Njelele shrine was that the
white invaders were responsible for
introducing the disease pandemic.
In short the voice of God (Mwari)
from the shrine, called on the people
to go to war to kick out the invaders
from the land!
Already irked by the Cecil John
Rhodes-led invasion of their country,
the Shona and Ndebele mobilised
their fighters to dislodge the white
land and cattle grabbers.
The call to arms was made by the
great spirit of Murenga and delivered
through the Njelele shrine.
The hide and seek tactics of striking
the enemy here, disappearing quickly
and striking again at another distant
place were dictated by Murenga.
We call these ‘guerilla tactics’.
While our gallant fighters and
comrades learnt much from Mao-Tse-
Tung (or is it Zedong), the Chinese
revolutionary leader, about guerilla
warfare, our own Mwari (God)
through our ancestral spirit, Murenga,
at Njelele shrine, had already given us
the basic principles and tactics of
fighting a vastly super-armed enemy.
We call the guerillas ‘vanorwa
muchivande’ or ‘amalwa ecatsha’.
That is why the various phases of our
liberation struggles in Zimbabwe have
been called Chimurenga ‘1’, ‘2’, ‘3’ and
so on.
Our main point here is to stress the
role of the Njelele or ‘Njerere’ shrines
as war command centres.
They have inspired, guided and
literally led the people’s struggles to
defend or liberate their territories.
In the next article we shall look at the
various religious practices and rituals
carried out at these different ‘njerere’
shrines in Zimbabwe and in Rwanda.

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:07:09 PM

WE have seen how the great Ancestral
Spirit of the Shona people possessed
a young girl (kasikana) and travelled
south from Guruuswa in Tanganyika
to explore the land between the
Zambezi and the Limpopo rivers, with
a view to bequeathing it to his
In this and the next article we shall try
to unravel more information about
the roots of the Shona by exploring
the lineages of their ancestors to see
how oral history helps to reveal their
Future discussions will explore how
some of the totems of the different
Shona groups came to be established.
The central institution of spirit
mediums called mhondoro also will
be explored to see how it links to the
roots of the Shona people.
The people who were led by the
powerful ancestral spirit whose
medium was ‘Gumbi Nehanda’ must
have been a closely related group
consisting of people of the same
family/clan with one great ancestor.
The generally accepted view is that all
the Shona and their close relatives
such as the Venda and Kalanga, derive
from one common great ancestor,
He is the earliest known ancestor of
the Shona according to oral tradition.
At ‘Mapungubwe’, one of the shrines
of the Shona, there is a village called
In the Matombo Hills, a road that
branches left on the way to Mzilikazi’s
grave is named ‘Tovera Road’.
‘Tovera’ is recognised as the Great
Ancestor of the Shona.
His name appears in the lyrics of
songs sung at various cultural and
spiritual ceremonies where the people
call on him to help solve their life
challenges such as disease and
Among the Nambiya, ‘Tovera’ also is
recognised as a great ancestor of the
One such song that recognises Tovera
as the great ancestor of the Shona
includes the following lyrics:
“Tovera mudzimu dzoka!
Vana vanorwara
Mudzimu dzoka!
Kwaziwai Tovera!”
‘Mambiri’ was the son of Tovera.
He was the head of two (mbiri)
famous villages in Guruuswa,
Tanganyika, where the Shona people
His people were called ‘Mambiri’s
children (vana vaMambiri).
They also came to be called ‘VaMbire’.
The name has persisted until today;
with one of the districts in
Mashonaland Central province being
named ‘Mbire’.
‘Mambiri’ was the father of ‘Murenga
Pfumojena Sororenzou’.
This is the legendary ‘Murenga’ after
whom the liberation wars of the
people of Zimbabwe are named.
He is the great ancestor whose
fighting spirit is credited with inspiring
the people of Zimbabwe to fight the
invading ‘vapambevhu’ and
‘vapambepfumi’ from Britain in all
phases of the Chimurenga liberation
‘Murenga’ was the father of
‘Chaminuka, Gumbi (Nehanda) and
‘Mushavatu’ (Venda spelling) or
‘Mushavanhu’ (Shona).
The earliest known spirit medium of
the Great Ancestor of the Shona,
most likely, ‘Tovera’ himself, was
Murenga’s son Gumbi.
After Gumbi the ancestral spirit
possessed the young girl ‘kasikana’ he
gave his name as ‘Gumbi Nehanda’.
It was after possessing ‘Kasikana’ that
the Great Ancestral Spirit ventured
south to look for a suitable land to
settle his people.
A previous article gave details of the
‘Gumbi Nehanda’ legend.
The Gumbi Nehanda spirit is the main
ancestral spirit (likely Tovera himself)
that guided the children of Mambiri
into Zimbabwe.
It preferred to possess the female
descendants of Mushavatu, younger
brother to Chaminuka and Gumbi, all
three being sons of Murenga
Pfumojena Sororenzou.
The spirit medium ‘Nyakasikana’
carried the Great Nehanda spirit
across the Zambezi and into
Only once is it reported that the
Nehanda spirit possessed ‘Nyamita’,
daughter of Mutota of the Nzou
During this period, David Livingstone,
the Scottish explorer, reports that he
personally saw Nyamita, the spirit
medium, strike the waters of a
flooded river, which waters then
separated allowing people to pass
This is similar to the Biblical Moses
striking the waters of the Red Sea to
allow the children of Israel to escape
their Egyptian pursuers.
The story is also told of how Gutsa,
Chiweshe and Hwata, sons of Chief
Nyashanu, fleeing their enemies from
Buhera to seek refuge with their
brother Seke, found the Save River in
full flood.
A female spirit medium (svikiro) that
they had forced to accompany them
struck the waters of the flooded Save
The waters separated allowing the
three and their consultant spirit
medium and her dog to escape
The three worked closely with the
Nehanda spirit medium, Charwe,
otherwise well known as Mbuya
Nehanda during the first Chimurenga.
Mbuya Nehanda, Hwata and Gutsa
were all sentenced to death and
hanged for the killing of Pollard, a
white settler and Native Commissioner
of Mazowe.
One cannot help, but speculate that
the spirit medium who accompanied
the three descendants of Mushavatu
from Chief Nyashanu’s country in
Buhera, was indeed our Mbuya
At the time of the arrival of the
whitemen, earlier predicted by
Chaminuka whose spirit medium
dwelt near Chitungwiza, the Nehanda
Spirit resumed the regular practice of
possessing only female descendants
of Mushavatu, of the ‘Mhofu’ totem.
Chaminuka, son of Murenga was also
a ‘mhondoro’ spirit that possessed
only mediums of the Mushavatu
descendants (vaera Mhofu).
Just before the arrival of white
invaders, Chaminuka’s spirit medium
was ‘Pasipamire Gavaza’ of the Mhofu
totem who lived in the Mhondoro
area; itself named for the
concentration of the spirit mediums
or mhodoro’.
Through his medium (svikiro),
Chaminuka predicted the coming of
the white invaders whom he
described as ‘vasina mabvi’ and the
First Chimurenga.
Chaminuka was well known for his
mysterious exploits (mashiripiti).
Ndebele warriors failed to attack and
destroy his shrine at Chitungwiza.
They would see it from afar, but on
getting close, the place would be a
pool of water, a hill or just thick
impenetrable fog or mist.
Chaminuka’s medium was killed at the
orders of the Ndebele King
Lobengula, who had invited him
(Pasipamire) to Bulawayo.
Ndebele spears failed to penetrate his
body until Chaminuka advised them
to give the spear to a young boy who
then stabbed his medium to death.
Another great ancestral spirit was
His medium (svikiro) was Gumbo
Kaguvi worked closely with Nehanda
to mobilise the war effort in the First
Chimurenga in the 1890s.
Mbuya Charwe and Gumbo
reShumba, the spirit mediums of
Nehanda and Kaguvi, respectively, and
both descendants of Mushavatu, also
of the ‘Mhofu’ totem, were arrested,
tried and hanged by the white
invaders for organising the rebellion
some time in 1898.
What we have shown are the lineages
of the Shona and their close relatives.
We have demonstrated that they were
a close knit group bound by their
ancestral spirits who guided them
south to Zimbabwe.
We have shown the total involvement
of the Shona spirit mediums in
defending the security and
independence of their people.
We have seen that the Shona
ancestral spirits preferred to possess
mediums of the Mhofu totem, with
the Nehanda spirit only possessing
female mediums.
In the next article we shall more
closely look at how the Shona ended
up with many totems in addition to
the eland (Mhofu).

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:08:45 PM

SOME of the totems of the Shona
were acquired as a way of asserting
authority e.g. “I am the
lion,” (Shumba) a powerful predator
of so and so, a defeated person; I am
the elephant (Nzou Samanyanga)
because I have proved more powerful
than you (whoever has been
overpowered), a boastful assertion of
strength and so on.
Mutota of the royal house at Great
Zimbabwe, was of the Moyo dzinza,
changed totem from Moyo to Nzou
Samanyanga after he defeated the
Tavara in northern area of Zimbabwe.
Totems (mitupo) are said to serve two
main purposes.
Primarily, totems were assigned to
different members of the Shona
people by their leaders to ensure
environmental stewardship especially
to take custody of different animal
One does not eat the animal that is
one’s totem.
This way the different members of the
community took custody of different
This was a sound environmental
stewardship practice.
The custom of not eating one’s totem
is widely observed among the Shona
people of Zimbabwe.
‘Vaera Mbizi’, those of the zebra totem
look after zebras; they do not hunt or
kill them.
‘Vaera Mhofu’ look after the eland and
so on.
Although this theory appears to be
plausible, it seems many more totems
appeared among the Shona well after
the initial assignment.
Oral history has many narratives on
how different totem groups arose.
And many Shona groups have
elaborate praise poems for their
totems which reflect the background
to adoption of the particular totem.
But this week we shall focus on the
‘Soko’ totem, the totem of many
Shona spirit mediums (mhondoro)
with a view to show how they link to
the ancestral group that came from
We have already established that the
Great Ancestor of the Shona was
most likely to be of the ‘Mhofu’ totem.
Most of the ‘mhondoro’ spirit
mediums in Zimbabwe are ‘Soko’ by
They are also called ‘Wafa wanaka’.
I have observed that the male spirit
mediums marry first wives of the
‘Mhofu’ totem.
Female spirit mediums who will be
‘Soko’ by totem marry husbands of
the ‘Mhofu’ totem.
The spirit medium who is custodian of
the Njelele shrine at Matombo Hills is
of the ‘Soko/Ncube’ totem.
The close relationship between the
spirit mediums and the ‘Mhofu’
people is also evident in the practice
where the ‘Mhofu’ are referred to as
matunzvi/vazukuru by the ‘Soko’ spirit
The ‘dunzvi’ (pl. =matunzvi leads in all
ceremonies including official opening
of the new ‘dumba’ or house of a
spirit medium.
No one who is not of the ‘Mhofu’
totem is allowed to handle, arrange or
otherwise carry the ceremonial and
other items belonging to the spirit
And so what is the link between the
‘Soko’ spirit mediums of the Shona
and their ‘matunzvi’ the ‘Mhofus’?
Legend has it that one of the ‘Mhofu’
ancestors coveted (kuchiva) his sister
and took her as his wife.
To cover up this abomination and as
a way of ‘cutting’ the relatedness
(cheka ukama), he changed his totem
from ‘Mhofu’ to ‘Soko’ but insisted that
his sister (now wife) retain the ‘Mhofu’
He then made a pledge that all his
male descendants who become spirit
mediums (mhondoros) would marry
‘Mhofu’ wives, who are essentially
their sisters.
The pledge has been honoured by all
‘Soko’ spirit mediums throughout the
history of the Shona people to date.
In ordinary conversation, members of
the ‘Soko Wafa Wanaka’ totem tacitly
admit to the fact that they are one and
the same with the ‘Mhofus’.
We shall look more closely into the
issue of totems and their significance
in Shona culture in another article.
First there is a strict rule among the
Shona people and indeed other
African groups that one never marries
a person of the same totem as his
Such persons are as good as your
mother’s son or daughter, too closely
related to allow for marriage.
This rule prevented in-breeding and
promoted hybrid vigour, very sound
biological principles even by Western
scientific standards.
Whenever two related people
inadvertently got married, a special
ritual or ceremony to break the
relationship, ‘kucheka ukama’ must be
The lyrics of one traditional tune that
relates to this practice go like this:
“Wakandinzwa naani!
Wakandinzwa nani kuti ndine
mwanasikana akanaka?
Cheka ukama ho!
Cheka ukama imombe chena yababa
vangu iyo yakanaka”
The ‘cheka ukama’ practice persists to
the present day.
Among the Shona, young people are
strongly encouraged to inquire as to
know the totem of their date before
the relationship establishes.
It is most embarrassing to discover
that your partner is your close relative
by totem when probably there is a
pregnancy or even a baby born.
In the latter scenario, a separation of
relationship ritual (‘cheka ukama’)
must be effected.
By adopting different totems inter-
marriages among people who
previously considered each other as
close relatives, became possible.
This was important in those early days
when populations were small and
finding a husband or wife could be a
Among Europeans, it is common for
close cousins to marry each other.
Royal families of Europe are said to be
quite closely related through these
marriages to even first and second
cousins, in an effort to maintain ‘royal’
This explains how King James I
became king of both Scotland and
England. This is how it happened.
When the Scottish throne became
vacant the nearest closest person who
deserved to ascend to the throne was
James, who was already King of
England. And so the United Kingdom
of England and Scotland came into
The English invaded and annexed
Northern Ireland which then also
became part of the United Kingdom
we know today.
We shall return to the totems of the
Shona people in the next article as we
try to explore their ancestral roots.

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:33:37 PM

WE have attempted to throw light on
aspects of the totem (mitupo) system
among the Shona.
Most totems are animals and the
taboo or mhiko is that one does not
eat the meat of one’s totem/mutupo
Most Shona groups observe this
If one knowingly eats the mutupo
animal, they may fall sick, have their
teeth fall out or otherwise suffer some
If, however, one commits the
abomination unknowingly, there are
no consequences.
The Shona are generally very proud of
their totems.
They have elaborate praise poems
that they recite based on the totem.
Often a hunter returning with meat or
one who brings a gift will receive
praises based on the totem.
Because the totem is a central
institution among the Shona, at first
meeting people will inquire as to the
totem of the visitor.
Once it is known, they will use it to
fully greet the visitor.
First names or surnames are normally
not used, the totem rules the roost.
They will scan their own relatives’
totems e.g. in-laws totems and seek to
define some relationship with the
For example, if the person’s mother is
a ‘Moyo’ and the visitor is also ‘Moyo’
by totem, then he is identified as a
maternal uncle (if a man) or aunt, if a
If the visitor or stranger shares the
same totem with the host, he is
treated as a real brother or sister as
the case may be.
The Shona take this practice seriously.
In this way, totems are used to define
relationships and to draw people
closer together, not to divide them.
Almost everyone you meet is a
relative, whether close or distant.
The totem institution is a central
element in conflict resolution and
peace-making among the Shona
It is understood that people who are
related must ‘look after each other’ as
it were.
The totems or mitupo can be divided
into two major clusters: those
associated with the land/forest and
those associated with the water.
The first group relates to totems of
land animals.
Examples include, but are not limited
to lion (shumba), zebra (mbizi), pig
(nguruve), buffalo (nyati), elephant
(nzou) and many others.
The second group of totems are
related to water.
Examples are ‘dziva’, a pool of water,
‘hove’, the fish, the fish eagle,
‘hungwe’ and ‘ngwena’, the crocodile
and others.
Among the Shona, it is generally
agreed that the totem does not
necessarily identify the ancestral roots
of a person.
The reason is that many families or
their founders have changed their
totems for various reasons.
Earlier we referred to the ‘cheka
ukama’ practice where it is alleged
that a ‘Mhofu’ totem man, after
committing ‘makunakuna’, the crime
of sleeping with his own sister,
changed his totem to ‘Soko’ and went
through the ritual where a white
beast (mombe chena) would be paid
to ‘clean’ the abomination.
Many other Shona men, after
committing a crime, ran away to a
distant land and changed their totem
so that they could not be tracked and
These fugitives with a new identity,
would still remind their family about
their real totem and pass the
information to their offspring.
I have met several people who will
give their totem, but proceed to
indicate that it is not their real
(original) totem.
They keep it confidential for security
In some cases when a man failed to
pay the requisite ‘roora/lobola’, which
payment also acted as an affirmation
that the children were his, the
children would be forced to assume
the totem of their mother.
Only upon payment of required
penalties would the children be
allowed to use their father’s totem.
Some families in the above situation,
have resorted to a double-barrelled
name that gives both the mother’s
and father’s totem.
A good example is ‘Shava-
The mother is of the Shava (mhofu)
totem while the father is Moyo
Many families have remained with
these double-barrelled totems
because the erring forefathers failed
to clear their ‘roora/lobola’ debts to
the in-laws.
In these cases, the identities are not
obscured though.
Let us return to the Shona and their
We have seen that the Shona of
Zimbabwe are the direct descendants
of Mambiri, the head of the two
(mbiri) villages in Tanganyika.
Oral tradition indicates that Mambiri’s
son Murenga begat the ancestors of
present day Shona people, which is
why all our struggles are inspired by
The question that might be asked is:
when the Shona migrated south, what
were their totems?
From talking to many people including
the spirit mediums (mhondoros), the
children of Mambiri (also called
vaMbire) had three groups or totems;
the Shava (Mhofu), the Soko
(Mukanya) and the Moyo (Dhewa).
Indications are that the totems were
created partly to allow inter-marriages,
since it was strictly taboo to marry one
of the same totem.
More importantly, however, is that
these three groups or ‘houses’ were
all descended from the same
The divisions were meant to assign
responsibilities for important tasks
that were needed to sustain the
We shall examine the roles played by
each of the three groups, the Shava,
the Soko and the Moyo in the next

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:36:38 PM

IN the last article we identified the
Shona as belonging to three primary
totem groups, Shava, Soko and Moyo.
We pointed out that the many other
totems that exist among the Shona
today are most likely secondary
As the families grew in number, some
assumed new totems/identities to
facilitate ‘cheka ukama’ or inter-
Others changed totems when they
conquered new territories or sought
to hide their identities for security
Acquiring a new totem also bestowed
authority and a separate identity from
the original group.
The Shava, who are descendants of
Mushavatu, one of Murenga’s sons,
take their totem as the ‘eland’, the
largest animal in the antelope family.
The eland is called mhofu or nhuka
(Shona) or ntuka (Chewa).
We have discussed how the eland is
considered a sacred animal (mhuka
inoera) among not only the Shona of
Zimbabwe, but other related
communities in east, central and
southern Africa.
Evidence from oral traditions shows
that the mhofu totem is associated
with the original family group that
later grew to be the present day
Shona and their relatives.
It is not by coincidence that
‘museyamwa’ the ‘chidao’ of the
‘mhofu’ clan is used in street language
to refer to black Zimbabweans.
People will say ‘zvinhu zvaana
museyamwa’ meaning things related
to local Africans.
Legend has it that Mambiri, the
ancestor of the vaMbire, whose
descendants are the present-day
Shona and their relatives such as the
Kalanga and the Venda, had three
He loved the first (vaHosi) and the
third wife (mainini vechipiri) and built
each a beautiful village (musha).
These are the famous two (mbiri)
villages that earned our great
ancestor the name Mambiri.
These villages were built in Guruuswa
or Tanganyika in present-day
Tanzania. The second wife, we
understand, lived more like a servant
and her residence was never elevated
to a full separate village.
When the vaMbire, inspired by the
spirits of their ancestors, decided to
migrate south to present day
Zimbabwe, they all belonged to one
family which identified with the ‘eland’,
mhofu/nhuka, an animal that had
deep religious significance in their
They segregated into three groups:
one group retained the original eland
totem. These were the descendants of
Mushavatu (Mushavanhu), and called
themselves Shava.
Today in Zimbabwe they are called
‘vaHera’, with Buhera as their centre of
recent diversity.
The second group assumed the Soko
Legend has it that these were the
descendants of Mambiri’s first born
son who had changed his totem to
Soko as a way of appeasing the
ancestral spirits for the abomination
of impregnating his own half-sister,
Mambiri’s daughter from his third and
youngest wife.
The whole group then decided that
one of them be the arbiter, the one to
settle disputes that might arise.
They chose the son born by the less-
favoured second wife of Mambiri to
become the arbiter or in short, the
ruler or chief.
The one chosen to be chief was to
look after the interests of all members
of the group and rule without fear or
He was expected to have a big open
heart for everybody, not to favour any
one group or individual.
He assumed the ‘totem’ ‘Moyo’.
The Moyo group were the rulers.
They ruled over the whole nation.
These were the Mwenemutapas and
the Mambos that ruled the empire.
They had to have a good heart (Moyo)
to accept and look after everybody
else. All their descendants have
assumed the totem ‘moyo’.
The Moyos had to have an animal as a
symbol for the totem group.
The cow, mombe, was chosen to
represent the ‘Moyo’ mutupo as it best
represents the role to be played by
the ruler or chief.
Hence members of the ‘Moyo’ totem
are called ‘chirandu’ because cattle
are used to settle all disputes
(mirandu) just as money is used in
modern societies. Cattle provide meat,
milk, hides, manure and can be sold
to get money which can also be used
to settle debts or ‘mirandu/mhosva’.
To emphasise that the chief had to
accept everybody, the ‘Moyo’ clan was
also called ‘Bvumavaranda’ meaning
one who accepts the people he rules
over. ‘Dhewa’ and ‘Dlembeu’ are other
names attached to the ‘Moyo’
The ‘Mhofu or Shava’ were the main
branch of this ancestral group of the
They assumed responsibility for
feeding the nation.
They were the mother or ‘Amai’ of the
whole group.
They were the tillers of the land,
responsible for agricultural production
and food security.
It was them who went to the holy
shrines presided over by their
brothers the Soko, to pray to ‘Mwari/
uMlimo’ for the rains so that good
harvests could obtained.

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:38:26 PM

THE ‘Shava’ people continue to be
actively involved in agriculture and in
rain ceremonies whenever drought
The Soko group assumed the role of
the spirit mediums or ‘priests’
responsible for linking the people to
their ancestral spirits and the all way
to Mwari/Musikavanhu, the Creator of
all things.
When ‘Mwari’, God the creator wanted
to pass a message to the people,
word came through the spirit
mediums of the Soko clan.
The ancestral spirits manifested
themselves as lions (mhondoro).
The medium becomes possessed by
the lion spirit (mhondoro) of the
In oral tradition, the Soko are the
dzinza who ate various herbal
medicines to strengthen themselves
for the role of being spirit mediums.
The spirit chooses whom it prefers.
Usually this will be a person, young or
mature who has no ‘blood’ on their
This is to say the person who may
become a spirit medium has not
committed murder or used evil magic
to poison or harm other people.
The religious significance of this
qualification to be a spirit medium
clearly points to the sacredness or
holiness of this task.
While Christian missionaries were
quick to condemn spirit mediums as
evil and pagan, it is clear they have
the same if not a higher standing
than those priests of Western
For example, we have already seen
that no blood or other symbol of
blood-letting is tolerated by our spirit
mediums of the ‘Mwari’ religion of the
Shona and related groups.
The spirit mediums who are of the
‘Soko’ totem foretell coming events or
reveal the truth about past events.
This is the divine power from Mwari,
the Creator passed to them through
their ancestral spirits.
Some of the mediums concentrate on
matters to do with calamities such as
droughts or disease pandemics.
To clearly distinguish and separate the
spirit mediums from the n’angas, the
former do not use herbal medicines;
they only use tobacco snuff for all
ceremonies or illnesses.
The tobacco snuff is used to present
the requests for whatever problem.
In fact spirit mediums and n’angas do
not mix.
Typically, let us look at how the spirit
mediums operate.
When there is a problem, the affected
people first go to consult a spirit
medium, the mhondoro’.
The spirit usually comes to possess
the medium at night.
The spirit will give a pronouncement
on the matter in question, advising
the aggrieved affected person (to) take
certain steps to address the problem.
Tobacco snuff may be dispensed with
an instruction usually to go and pray
hard under a particular tree, for the
ancestral spirits and Mwari, God to
In the case of request for rainfall a
member of the Mhofu totem or a
‘muzukuru’ born of a ‘Mhofu’ mother
will lead the intercession.
The person must meet the criteria of
having no ‘blood’ on his hands.
Only persons of the ‘Mhofu’ totem
may act to intercede on behalf of the
people in such circumstances.
Any other people will not be listened
He takes with him a lump of tobacco,
‘chambwa’ in a wooden plate.
On this mission, which can take
several days, his only food is
mbwirembwire, roasted maize ground
into powder.
About 200-300 metres from the
appointed shrine, he takes off all his
clothes and shoes, to remain with
only a loin cloth with no red colours.
He may throw over his shoulders a
black or white cloth if the weather is
He then kneels at the shrine and
announces his presence by clapping
his hands. He then gives a detailed
account of his prayer (request).
He may have to do this several times
over a number of days.
At the end of each session, again he
will clap his hands before standing up
and retracing his steps.
He will need to report back at the
mhondoro’s shrine.
When a request is brought, the
mhondoro (ancestral spirit) will
consult with his fellow spirits in their
spirit world and pass the prayer or
request to ‘Mwari’ the Creator.
With requests for rain the answer is
usually quite swift.
Showers will be expected within
hours, but often within minutes of the
prayer being submitted.
Even if there has been a serious
abomination in the land, the
mhondoro may advise that certain
ceremonies be conducted to cleanse
the land before the request e.g. for
rainfall can be entertained by Mwari,
the Creator.
Most white farmers used to follow
these traditional practices sending
their workers with appropriate ‘gifts’ to
the spirit mediums to request for
rainfall. Surprisingly, many ‘new
farmers’ are ignorant and even
arrogant, refusing to follow these
traditional religious practices, often to
their own detriment.

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:41:30 PM

MUCH speculation and mystery still
surrounds the origins of the great
Nehanda spirit medium of the Shona
We have already shown in previous
articles, that the Shona, like other
Bantu (Vanhu) groups, migrated from
the north crossing the mighty
Zambezi River in its lower reaches
where there are fewer cataracts and
the flow of the stream is not so
The country where the mighty
Zambezi River had many crossing
places came to be called
The Portuguese lusophonised
(changed it to sound Portuguese) the
Shona word and named the country
‘Mossambique’ or Mozambique, in
If all the great spirits were already
among the people by the time they
crossed Mazambuko, it should be
possible to find traces of their
existence north of the Zambezi.
The legend of Nehanda Nyakasikana
seems to throw more light on the
roots of the Shona people.
Recently, in a discussion of the
liberation war fought by our gallant
comrades, the role of the spirit
medium of Nehanda was highlighted.
In discussions with people who have
intimate knowledge of the country
north of the Zambezi and just above
the Caborra Bassa Dam, I was made
to understand that there is a
mountain area known as ‘Gumbi
I became curious to find out if ‘Gumbi
Nehanda’ located close to the Zambia-
Mozambique border and not far from
the northern banks of the Zambezi,
had any links with our great
Zimbabwean spirit medium, ‘Mbuya
What did the name mean and how
did it arise?
And here I narrate what I was told by
people who either lived near or
travelled through the ‘Gumbi
Nehanda’ area.
The information has been passed
orally from generation to generation.
Some of the detail relating to physical
locations comes from people who
have lived and hunted in the so-called
‘Gumbi Nehanda’ area.
I believe some of our comrades might
have lived in or passed through the
‘Gumbi Nehanda’ area during the
liberation war and might be able to
add other details.
Legend has it that ‘Gumbi Nehanda’ is
actually the name of a young girl who
came to live in this remote
mountainous area alone.
Apparently she had left her home and
family in Guruuswa in Tanganyika
having become possessed by a
powerful ancestral spirit while still in
her teens.
This spirit led her to leave her home
in Chigon’o Village in Tanganyika.
She travelled alone southwards
ending up on the Matemwe
Mountains on the northern banks of
the Zambezi River in present day
She is said to have been permanently
possessed by the spirit.
Her parents made frantic efforts to
look for her with no success.
It is said those looking for her would
ask people if they had seen
‘kasikana’ (a young slender girl).
Although she was sighted at various
places by many people, somehow her
parents never located her, as it
appears the spirit possessing her
somehow hid her from those looking
for her.
She then was generally referred to as
‘Kasikana’ seems to have lived for
quite some time on the Matemwe
She fed on the bark of the ‘mukonde’
tree, a plant with thick fleshy stems
that produce a bitter milky white sap.
It is said that using the ‘mukonde’ tree
bark as food is a common practice
among spirit mediums.
She was always dressed in a short
skirt made of beads that reached just
above the knees, and a top, also
made of beads, that reached just
above the navel. She was adorned
with bracelets (Shona = ndarira) on
both feet and hands.
When asked her name she called
herself ‘Gumbi’.
Interestingly, it turns out that ‘gumbi’
means a skirt, an apparent reference
to her unique skirt made of beads.
It is said that whenever and wherever
people met ‘Gumbi’ she was
accompanied by a young lion.
When asked why she kept the
‘handa’ (Shona = young dog), she
replied it was not a ‘handa’, but her
gombwe (messenger).
But people would report that they had
seen ‘Gumbi nehanda yake’, that is
Gumbi with her young dog, (handa).
The young lion was said to have great
powers and was her messenger
(gombwe) that Gumbi sent to carry
out various errands and tasks
including summoning people to visit
the spirit medium.
Eventually, people came to call the
young spirit medium ‘Gumbi
Nehanda’ which literally translates to
‘the one with a skirt and a puppy’.
The area in which she lived in the
Matemwe mountains also came to be
known as Gumbi Nehanda, a name
that has persisted up to the present
We have shown that a spirit medium
named ‘Gumbi Nehanda’ lived in a
mountainous area on the northern
banks of the Zambezi where the river
crosses into Mozambique.
We have indications that ‘Gumbi
Nehanda’ shares many similarities
with our Mbuya Nehanda not least of
which is the name.
Gumbi Nehanda’s place of origin,
Guruuswa, in Tanganyika, coincides
with the area where the Shona people
of Zimbabwe are thought to have
originated as discussed in earlier
In the next episode we shall provide
more information on the mystery of
the Gumbi Nehanda spirit medium
and its possible links to the roots of
the Shona-speaking people of

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:44:17 PM

IN the previous article, we saw that a
great ancestral spirit of the Shona
people somewhere in Tanganyika in a
place called Chigon’o Village
possessed a young girl, ‘kasikana’,
who then left home and wandered
Legend has it that, guided by the
spirit, she travelled south and
temporarily lived on the Matemwe
Mountains on the northern banks of
the Zambezi, close to the Zambia-
Mozambique border.
She or rather the spirit that possessed
her, gave its name as ‘Gumbi’.
And because the possessed girl was
always accompanied by what
appeared to be a young dog (handa),
she came to be called ‘Gumbi
Gumbi Nehanda lived alone with her
It is said that she dug into the side of
the mountain to create a cave where
she lived.
The earth was soft at that time.
The markings from her skirt and top
made of beads are still etched on
what is now hard rock in the area
where she used to sit or lie down or
roll about.
Her footprints are said to be clearly
visible together with markings made
by the bracelets (ndarira) that
adorned her ankles.
A fascinating mystery that science
through carbon dating could probably
throw light on.
Legend has it that the young spirit
medium, ‘Gumbi Nehanda’ was of the
‘Mhofu’ totem.
And here we can draw some parallels
with the Mbuya Nehanda spirit of
Zimbabwe which is said to only
possess females of the ‘Mhofu’ totem.
Shona-speaking people of the ‘Mhofu’
totem are called the ‘VaHera’, who
seem to have first settled in an area
now called ‘VuHera’ or present day
‘Buhera’ district in Manicaland
The significance of the name ‘VaHera’
— vanoera, is its meaning.
In Shona ‘kuera’ literally means
Given that our ancestral spirits are the
key link between the people and
Mwari (God), it is common knowledge
that members of the ‘Hera’ clan play a
significant role in Shona religious
Their role is more akin to that of
priests in other religions, but without
the elaborate trappings associated
with many religious leaders.
It is often the case that a person from
the vaHera clan is asked to lead in
making supplications ‘kupira’ to Mwari,
the creator through the ancestral
One such ceremony is where the
‘zumba’ of a mhondoro is officially
A ‘Mhofu’ clan member must lead in
installing the various artifacts of the
‘Mhondoro’ in the new house or
Could that explain why the great
ancestral spirit of the Shona people
possesses females of the Mhofu
totem as its mediums?
We are simply tracing the roots of the
Shona through their religious
Looked at another way, the Great
Spirit is in fact that of a Great Ancestor
who was of the Mhofu totem.
The Gumbi Nehanda legend does
refer to the fact that the young girl
‘kasikana’ was indeed possessed by
her ancestor, who can reasonably be
assumed to be one of the great
ancestors of the present-day Shona
The great Nehanda Ancestral Spirit
possessing the young ‘kasikana’ is said
to have travelled south to scout for a
rich fertile country for her children.
Indeed the possessed girl travelled
alone accompanied only by her ‘dog’,
the handa.
Legend has it the ‘Gumbi Nehanda’
slipped into and crossed the mighty
Zambezi from her temporary shelter
in the Matemwe Mountains on the
banks of the Zambezi.
One might assume that at that point in
time the rest of the people were still
up north in Guruuswa, Tanganyika.
The ancestral spirit must have
explored and found suitable the area
between the Zambezi and Limpopo
that is present day Zimbabwe.
Did the spirit medium ‘Gumbi
Nehanda’ travel back to Guruuswa to
mobilise the people to move south to
We really do not know her
movements, but communication must
have occurred as the Shona-speaking
people did migrate south settling in
present-day Zimbabwe.
The claim made by Zimbabweans that
this land belongs to our ancestral
spirits is not idle talk; the events
outlined above bear testimony to that
The dominance of ‘masvikiro’ and
‘mhondoro’ spirit mediums among
the Shona people clearly reflects the
historical reality of how the Shona
ended up in Zimbabwe, led by their
ancestral spirits.
The great ancestral Nehanda spirit
continues to dominate the socio-
cultural existence of the majority of
Zimbabwean people.
The Shona religion thrives in the daily
lives of the people.
The active involvement of the
Chaminuka, Murenga, Nehanda and
other ancestral spirits at the heart of
all the liberation wars gives credence
to the claim that this land belongs to
our ancestors who continue to exert
great influence in defending our
Our God, Mwari, is approached
through the spirit mediums and
ancestral spirits.
Indeed the great ancestor, who
possessed Kasikana Gumbi Nehanda
must have explored the land we call
Zimbabwe today, and bequeathed it
to his progeny, the Shona people.
Through spirit mediums great and
small, our ancestors under the overall
guidance of Mwari Musikavanhu, have
continued to exercise oversight over
our affairs including national security,
food insecurity, droughts and other
How else, many will ask, do we
explain the surprising unity and
national convergence of purpose such
as that witnessed at the July 31, 2013
elections? When many thought the
country would be torn apart, the
people closed ranks to the great
bewilderment of our external enemies
and their local lackeys!
No violence was experienced, no
blood-letting at the elections; the
workings of our Mwari, Musikavanhu!
And the great spirit said:
“Let there be peace among my
And behold, indeed peace prevailed
in Zimbabwe!
Another critical phase of the
Chimurenga wars was successfully
steered by the invisible hands of our
Mwari Musikavanhu through our
ancestral spirits!
Our great leaders have been truly
How else do you explain our
President Robert Mugabe’s courage
and determination in waging, often
single-handedly, a relentless fight
against western imperialism and neo-
And one cannot doubt that he is
possessed by the great spirit that
possessed Nehanda!
It is the spirit of the Zimbabwean
people which endows him with
selfless courage; the spirit of no
“Imi munoti zvomuZimbabwe zviri
“Ndezvavadzimu naMwari izvi!
Is that not the same Murenga spirit
that moved all the people, both
Shona and Ndebele to unite against
British invaders from 1893 to 1898 in
the First?
What or who drove thousands and
thousands of youths to abandon
school and even lucrative jobs to join
the liberation struggle in the Second
These are the Shona people,
inextricably linked spiritually to their
God, Mwari and their great ancestral
In the next article we shall more
closely examine the ancestral roots of
the Shona to see if we can identify the
names of ancestors and their lineages.

Messenger: zion mountain Sent: 10/27/2014 6:47:04 PM

IN the last episode in this series we
argued for Africa to reclaim its
spiritual independence.
This is only possible if we understand
and follow our African religion.
The relentless assault on African
culture and religion by Western
Christianity, has left many Africans
wondering in a spiritual wilderness,
unable to define who they are, where
they have come from or where they
are going.
European colonisers used the
Christian religion as a pacifying tool,
one that brutally demonised and
attempted to uproot African
spirituality to replace it with a foreign
religion which focuses on individual
rather than collective/communal
This religion is totally at variance with
the family/community focus of our
African religion and culture.
Spirituality is at the centre of all
Each one of us has a spirit which
dwells in our body.
What is ‘us’ is the spirit; the body
returns to dust when we die, but the
spirit lives on.
It is through our spirits that we
connect with God.
We are spiritual beings.
Africans have always had a strong
spiritual dimension to their existence.
It is this spiritual identity that has
enabled them to maintain their
identity and independence over
thousands of years.
Spirituality is the main pillar of African
independence and identity.
Because it is the spirit that endures
even after death, our ancestors are
therefore continuously in touch with
It is reasonable to think that their (our
ancestors) spirits will continue to look
after us the same way they did when
they were alive as physical bodies.
Hence our unshakeable belief that
our ancestral spirits intervene in all
aspects of our daily lives.
European colonisers of Africa
recognised the central role of
spiritualism in the total existence of
They made the destruction of African
spiritualism their primary target and
mobilised a whole army of Western
Christian missionaries to work
tirelessly to disconnect, alienate and
demonise and destroy African
spirituality as enshrined in the cultural
and religious beliefs and practices of
the people.
Christianity we re-emphasise is to all
intents and purposes a colonising
We have previously made reference to
King Leopold of Belgium holding
briefing workshops for Christian
missionaries who were going out to
He advised them not to waste time
teaching Africans about God because
they already knew him.
Rather the missionaries were to use
Christianity to tame the wild black
savages so that Europeans could loot
Africa’s wealth in relative peace.
There is a Chritian church hymn which
reads, in Shona:
“Tarirai kune nyika uko;
“Tichandofarawo musi
The hymn seeks to mystify heaven as
the place to be, where happiness
abounds. The aim is to psychologically
prepare the ‘believers’ to lose interest
in their physical world and look up to
The bad would burn in Gehena.
Incidentally, African religion focuses
on developing good relations with
our neighbours and relations here on
There is no heavenly dimension in
African religion; if anything the
ancestral spirits ‘vadzimu’ who literally
dwell among us but in the spiritual
dimension, will punish errant persons
through various misfortunes right
here in this life.
This forced individuals to behave
properly in the community.
The missionaries were instructed to
select Bible verses, often out of
context, that taught Africans to hate
wealth, to abandon their religion and
culture, which the Christian God
allegedly considered to be the work of
the devil.
All African religious and cultural
practices were banned by
Gehena was defined as the place
where all those who sinned against
the Christian God were burned as
And all those who did not believe in
Jesus were sinners destined for hell!
Africans were being forced and today
continue to be forced to adopt a
foreign spiritual pathway to Mwari,
Even the Christian God was made to
sound superior to the African God.
All persons were declared sinners; all
were lost souls who had to spend all
their lives trying to make up for their
All the people were declared lost!
Only the spirit of Jesus and the Holy
spirit could redeem them!
No other religion could save the
Africans continue to find it strange
that Christianity assumes all people
are already sinners.
So despite our clear route to Mwari
through or ancestral spirits, we are
already condemned and need God’s
mercy to save us from Satan and hell
It pleased the Christian God, so the
missionaries and evangelists taught, if
the African converts obeyed their
rulers, the colonial masters.
If one felt aggrieved, they could wait
for justice in heaven, after death.
Christianity taught Africans to
embrace poverty as a virtue,
something that made them look good
before God.
‘Blessed are the poor!’ the pastors
preached every other day.
Accepting that poverty was a virtue
meant that the Africans had little zeal
to fight and defend their land and
That belief also took away their zeal to
work and better themselves.
By preaching the gospel of poverty,
humility, obedience to authority,
Christian missionaries acted as the
long range artillery that bombards
and softens the target for the ground
troops to move in, take the land, the
wealth, the cattle.
To put the debate into perspective,
the Christian missionaries forced the
Africans to abandon and reject their
spiritual connections to Mwari, the
Creator through their ancestral spirits
and spirit mediums.
To date ancestral spirits and spirit
mediums are condemned as demonic
and belonging to Satan.
One only needs to open a television
channel broadcasting religious
programmes. Then you wonder how
your loving mother and father who
raised and sent you to school and
supported you in so many different
ways suddenly become demons upon
This is the hypocrisy of Western
It is at total variance with our African
We are all spiritual.
We are all the sons and daughters of
our Creator, Mwari, God.
Over millennia, thousands and
thousands of years, we have evolved
a close relationship with our Creator
We have well-defined ways of
thanking our Creator and seeking his
intervention in times of need. How
can someone emerge out of nowhere
and tell us we are lost?
Render the people rudderless then
you can lead them anywhere.
Disconnect them from their ways and
they become like lost sheep.
In the next episode we shall examine
the various dimensions of our

1 - 1011 - 18

Return to Reasoning List

Haile Selassie I